Saturday’s first half at Swansea was probably our worst performance of the season – we just didn’t look to be at the races at all, and in the opening ‘45 both Dan Neil and Corry Evans picked up bookings. It was Evans’ fifth of the season, which rules him out for this afternoon’s game against Wigan.
Dennis Cirkin is fit for today’s game, and he could come back into the team today, particularly if Mowbray reverts – as I suspect he will – to a back three to match Wigan up.
Here’s how I think we might line up this afternoon.
Goalkeeper: Anthony Patterson
Again, Patterson made some cracking saves to keep the scoreline down last weekend. He kept us in the game at some points.
Defence: Lynden Gooch, Luke O’Nien, Danny Batth, Dennis Cirkin, Aje Alese
Tony Mowbray made the comment in his post-match press conference about teams focusing on stopping our wide players, and also talked about Wigan’s strength in attack and our need to be defensively sturdy. So, putting two and two together, I think he might go to a back 3/5 to pose Wigan a different type of problem.
If he did go that way, he could either put Alese at left centre back and Clarke at wingback, but I think Clarke will be used further forward today, so Cirkin should come back into the team after a few weeks out with an injury.
Midfield: Dan Neil, Jay Matete, Alex Pritchard, Amad
With Corry Evans absent, Mowbray’s got a big decision to make – Matete or Ba? Or is it that straightforward? To be honest, I think pretty much every midfielder’s place is under threat today – Dan Neil and Elliot Embleton haven’t been in good form, while further forward neither has Alex Pritchard. I’d love to see Ba get a start, but when he does I think it will be alongside Evans.
Jay Matete’s impressed off the bench in recent weeks, so he’ll most likely come in to replace the skipper, while Dan Neil will probably – fortunately – retain his place. Ahead of them, Pritchard will keep his place for his experience more than anything else, and I think Amad could be given a start in his more natural, deeper position. With Roberts and Bennette on the bench, it gives us the chance to genuinely change the game should we need to.
Attacker: Jack Clarke
Jack Clarke’s name is pulled out of the hat this week for a crack up front. He’s shown all season he’s a goal threat, but he just needs to hold his position, play in that central third and stay on the last line of defence.
The reality is that since we’ve lost our strikers we’ve not tested the opposition keeper anywhere near enough, and the whole team’s got to take responsibility for that.